Warning: There are spoilers ahead.
I was excited to get into it. I had thoroughly enjoyed the first book, and I was intrigued to learn whose story we’d be reading next.
We follow Myrie — a naturally submissive piercing artist — and Cline, a Dom high school art teacher. Cline has been struggling to find his muse. He has been cohabitating with his sister and her daughter, and, consequently hasn’t worked on his passion project: his comics. Myrie isn’t bereft of her own stressors, either. She has her hands full with helping her mother raise her younger siblings.
At a glance, these two shouldn’t work. Cline is sixteen years her senior and she doesn’t have the time for romance. He, on the other hand, completely disagrees with her assumption and starts pursuing her in earnest, showing her that the weight of the world doesn’t need to rest on her shoulders. The two explore a scalding Dominant-submissive relationship, that, like in “Vice’d”, is near-instantaneous.
Riding the coattails of such a strong first piece, I was… Well, I guess I was underwhelmed. The beginning part of the story feels quite “soupy”. It’s not uncommon for Daniels to gloss over what are presumably lengthy conversations, but it stuck out to me that there was a rather major one that needed having that was glossed over.
When Cline and Myrie meet, she stumbles over her words. And he, apparently, has some Dom-esque comments (including referencing safe words). All of which was explained in the narrative. It is a common device used in writing – to explain what has happened to fill in the gaps. To serve as cohesion from one plot point to another. I wouldn’t have minded, but it felt like an important establishing conversation was entirely missing and set the tone for the rest of the piece.
There are a few other instances where the narrative was doing too much telling me, the reader, how it was supposed to be. I didn’t have the time to feel any sort of connection to these characters. The most climactic part of the plot outside of the romance was when an abusive f@!#stain getting aggressive with his partner and, subsequently, Myrie.
I feel like the story lacked an overarching direction and, unfortunately, I don’t feel like the character relationships were strong enough to stand on their own.
I do adore Layne’s writing style. It’s light, it’s playful, it’s fun. I appreciate the consent-oriented characters she creates and the stories she tells. I also appreciate the research/education that goes into crafting these stories and portraying the BDSM community in an approachable, responsible way.
While this book didn’t end up being entirely my cup of tea, I do think that it’s worth giving a chance. The universe Daniels has created is charming and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
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